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Markers/Short Reads: Mar 1, 2003

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In a spate of proteomics mergers, Cambridge Antibody Technology swallowed up Oxford GlycoSciences in a £109.6 million all-stock deal, and Structural Bioinformatics emerged with the upper hand in its merger with San Diego neighbor GeneFormatics.

 

Lilly added more collaborations to its belt. The company is working with MDS Proteomics’ technology to study phosphorylated proteins, and with Molecular Staging’s platform to identify biomarkers for sepsis.

 

It seems industry-financed R&D has fallen into step with the sluggish economy. The NSF reported that while overall R&D expenditures grew during 2002, they did so at a slower rate compared with previous years. The report noted, however, that federal R&D investment was expected to grow at a faster pace than GDP for 2002, particularly in the areas of defense and health.

 

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the unraveling of DNA structure, the New York Academy of Sciences is holding an art exhibition and lecture by Spencer Wells, a geneticist at the Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genetics in Oxford, UK. The show features work from 13 contemporary artists who have used genetic ideas or imagery in their art.

Structural Genomix signed Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals to a two-year drug discovery deal. SGX will determine the structure of Boehringer’s drug targets, as well as study their interactions with drug leads.

 

Hoping to double its business in China over the next five years, PerkinElmer has established a new subsidiary of its Life and Analytical Sciences business outside Shanghai. The new subsidiary consolidates control of PerkinElmer’s regional offices and will employ an estimated 100 sales and service personnel.

 

Tooting its own horn, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation said that last year 18 new life science companies had chosen to call the state home. The growth was attributed to the state’s $1 billion initiative to encourage investment and infrastructure development in the field, which has increased the number of life science businesses in Michigan by 15 percent in the last three years.

 

ParaGen, the plant genotyping business, is changing hands again: The Quebecois firm DNA LandMarks, a subsidiary of BASF Plant Science, has signed a letter of intent with Paradigm Genetics to acquire the business. Founded by Celera, the unit was originally passed off to Paradigm in a December 2001 deal worth roughly $2.1 million.

What to call it? Hyseq and Variagenics decided their combined company will be known as Nuvelo, trading under the Nasdaq symbol NUVO.

 

In a reversal of its focus on drug development, Deltagen cut loose two subsidiaries and will return to providing tools and services based on its mouse knockout and other transgenic technology.

Need some basic bioinformatics? In January, Wiley published Bioinformatics for Dummies, a 472-page treatise that purports to show how to do sophisticated bioinformatics without learning UNIX first. The authors are Jean-Michel Claverie and Cedric Notredame, both of France’s CNRS.

 

Having swallowed up InforMax, Invitrogen has now turned to Panvera, a provider of cellular and biochemical probe assays until now owned by Vertex Pharmaceuticals. In February, Invitrogen acquired Madison, Wisc.-based Panvera, along with its assays, reagents, probes, and proteins for $95 million in cash.

 

As of press time, President Bush’s proposed budget for NIH included $27.8 billion in funding for fiscal year 2004, an increase of 2 percent over the $27.3 billion alloted the institutes in FY03. Spending on biodefense-related research and infrastructure at NIH would grow to $6 billion, doubling the number of biodefense-related grants.

The Scan

Shape of Them All

According to BBC News, researchers have developed a protein structure database that includes much of the human proteome.

For Flu and More

The Wall Street Journal reports that several vaccine developers are working on mRNA-based vaccines for influenza.

To Boost Women

China's Ministry of Science and Technology aims to boost the number of female researchers through a new policy, reports the South China Morning Post.

Science Papers Describe Approach to Predict Chemotherapeutic Response, Role of Transcriptional Noise

In Science this week: neural network to predict chemotherapeutic response in cancer patients, and more.